Spring’s a great time for duck. Deliciously iridescent dib-dabbing mallards quacking across the ponds amorously at their brindled she-duck. A crisply irresistible treat.
Nigella Lawson reinvents recipes for poaching duck. This means you can cook ahead and leave it in the fridge until it’s wanted - finishing it off in a well fired oven. It’s a great way to make sure it’s all juicily cooked without going stringy. And it makes for an enriched and silken duck soup.
So grab the bird in hand and pop it in your cauldron. Cover in water. Add salt and I think some red wine vinegar. This cuts through the cloy of all that duck fat and reduces the smell factor, which in a tiny chi chi apartment, can linger unpleasantly for days.
Simmer, boil lightly, whatever, for about forty minutes and remove from the pot. Cool off and put in the fridge. Now you can add the giblets to the liquid and some sherry and reduce by about a third. Fish out the bits and cool.
When you are good to go for the meal take the duck out of the fridge for an hour, rub the skin vigorously with salt and lemon juice so that it puckers up a bit. Now, there are very few reasons I would sacrifice my home-made marmalade to any altar but toast. This is one. Spoon it liberally over the bird and pop into a high oven. There It should sizzle, caramelise and crisp within half an hour.
An average duck will only have enough meat for four. Remove the meat and put the carcass back into the oven to roast the bones for an hour. Then put all that back in the pot with the cold stock and simmer for another hour. You’ll get a rich elixir of bird broth.
Serve the duck with new potatoes, boiled in their skins with some mint. And a curly leaf salad with spring onions, tartly dressed to chaperone your orangey duck. Just so with a bottle of vin rouge.